January 21, 2020
When you’ve managed to find a career path that works for you and your lifestyle, it’s an important turning point. This often acts as a catalyst for the future, and a renewed focus on professional and personal growth.
This might mean a change in your motivation, energy or confidence levels – and you might be leaving some things behind. But when you find that one thing that excites you enough to get out of bed in the morning, it’s a no brainer that you’re moving in the right direction.
For Senior Director of the Social Innovation Fund, Alan Bacon, that direction was United Way.
Bacon spent 12 years in higher education as the campus president of Harrison College. He left that job to travel abroad for 18 months, spending most of his time in Johannesburg, South Africa – and finding his turning point.
“I saw poverty from a very different lens. I saw the types of ingenuity, innovation, and the want and need for better lives,” Bacon said. “Spending so much time in that community helped trigger that next iteration of what I wanted to do in my career. I wanted it to be more community focused – to see how I could really help tackle poverty. This was the moment that motivated me to start looking into something like United Way.”
With his higher education expertise and background, bundled with his lively personality and unwavering character – United Way and Bacon were a perfect fit.
But with perfection, comes practice and the appetite to learn – knowledge gained after being thrust into different leaderships positions as a young professional.
It was during these positions, he learned about his value as it relates to his worth.
To Bacon, value is what someone brings to the table. People can agree on someone’s value for the most part, so their value can always be at a certain level. But when it comes to their worth, it’s the cost associated to their value.
“Your worth is how much money you make, your title, the benefits, and the kinds of things you get while on the job – the things that make your job what it is,” he explained. “A lot of the time – whether you’re a young professional, a woman or a person of color – your value skyrockets, but your worth always trails behind.”
So, what do we need to do within our careers to make sure our value and our worth always stay at the same level?
“Don’t be afraid to advocate for your worth,” he said. “Whether that’s salary or a different position, working within a different department, or you want to do x, y or z outside of your job description. Be mindful of making sure your value and your worth are always in line.”
This type of mindset is why Bacon fits so well within United Way. He notices a problem and attacks it head-on, so that those following behind him have the opportunity for a brighter future – especially his kids.
As a father, everything Bacon does is for his children – but it’s not always an easy balancing act.
“You can’t really multitask being a father, being a professional, being a community person, or whatever rockstar dreams you might have,” he said. “You have to pick and choose, and you have to prioritize. But having that drive and determination and setting the example, that’s for them. I want to make a difference in their lives and in others, and that’s a motivational factor for me.”
The approach Bacon takes on his personal and professional life is owed to the ones who came before him. He attributes his ambition to his parents and his faith.
Bacon’s personal motto? As long as you know who you are and where you are, you’re on the path to happiness.
“I want to work myself out of a job,” he said. “I think in a perfect world United Way doesn’t exist. And that’s what I’m going to try to accomplish while I’m here.”